A Visit to VOSA

Adam Quellin: Getting to grips with the rear frame of his KR200.Adam Quellin: Getting to grips with the rear frame of his KR200.

I
bought my Messerschmitt as an abandoned project in October 2006. Since then I have tidied up the bodywork and got it running. The car came with a Honda Spacey seooter engine lurking where the Sachs unit should be. There was also a spare dismantled Sachs engine, with badly worn gear teeth and a spare scooter, which also came with the car. Having seen the state of this engine, the previous owner had decided to go for a conversion rather than the expense of restoring the original Sachs.

Much work had been done to the bodywork. Photos reveal little more than two down tubes, an engine and seat. I had little hope of obtaining the original registration number. There was a very old tax disc which came with the car, bearing the number WNC 308. Unfortunately, this number didn't relate to my car. However, there was still the option of getting the vehicle inspected and acquiring an age related number.

Photos

Some more photos of Adam's car — click to enlarge.


VOSA Inspection

I made an appointment with DVLA to get my car inspected at my nearest Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (V.O.S.A.) They would verify its authenticity. The DVLA uses a points system to allow cars to obtain an original or age related number. Otherwise, the new number would be a 'Q' plate, as found on kit cars.

Following expert advice, I set about removing the Honda engine fitted to the car and gathered as many original parts as I could find, to make the engine compartment look more convincing. I loosely bolted the Sachs engine together with its cowling and stuck the carburettor back on. I borrowed a chain case and final drive from fellow enthusiast Malcolm Bull and bolted that on too. Eventually I had a rolling but non-running original spec car, so the inspector could see my car was genuine. I was struck by how similar the two engine and drives were in overall dimensions, although the Honda unit is taller. I measured both engine and drives, around 23 inches was the length, with wheels attached. I guess this is partly the reason why the Spacey unit is a popular conversion.

Under Inspection: Locating the all important chassis number.Under Inspection: Locating the all important chassis number.

A chap in my local classic car club, the Midland Vehicle Preservation Society (MVPS), knew of a trailer I could use to carry the Messerschmitt to the VOSA office. With borrowed trailer, I set off in some trepidation to the VOSA office. I arrived at Elmdon Trading Estate, near Birmingham airport, a few minutes before one o'clock, in time for my appointment.

A passing kind motorist got out of his car and helped me uncouple the trailer and push it into the space. I met the VOSA woman carrying a clipbord and torch. She examined the chassis number (71024) stamped on the down tube. At one point she struggled to read the number and began to question the first digit, slightly obscured by rust saying it didn't look like a seven. She then produced a piece of chalk and the number became more legible. l thought for a moment, what if she contests the number, where will I go from here? It was a major relief when she confirmed the number. No other part of the car was looked at. I asked if she wanted to see the engine compartment and she said that wasn't necessary. I was quite surprised she didn't examine the rest of the car and start nit picking.

It was quite amusing to learn later, our elderly next door neighbour had been watching me unload the Messerschmitt. Apparently she had mistaken it for a dodgem carApparently she had mistaken it for a dodgem car. "I do like dodgems", she told my wife.

A few days later and we were on holiday in Dorset. Due to bad planning on my part, I missed the National Microcar Rally. I was disappointed about this because it one of the highlights of my year, usually. However, we did have a great holiday nevertheless. My wife and I love the South West of England, one of our favourite parts of the world. I'm quite envious of people who live in this area, and often hanker for a more rural way of life.

Beaulieu

During my holiday I attended the Beaulieu Autojumble with a Trojan owning friend of mine and we examined the myriad of stalls. Anyone who has ever been to the Beaulieu Autojumble will know how long it takes to see everything. There were a few interesting vehicles I would have liked to take home with me, including a collection of beautifully restored scooters and a 1938 rear engined Tatra. There was also a Lambretta 450 three wheeled truck for sale, in need of restoration (450 refers to the payload, not the engine size).

Engines: Spacey and Sachs.Engines: Spacey and Sachs.We also met Mike Shepherd, who has several microcars. Parked nearby was his lovely red Gogomobil coupe which many of you will know about. Then we spotted a Messerschmitt engine for sale. Just what I needed. Some gentle persuasion with the wife/manager was required and later on in the week. we went to the vendor's house near Boumemouth to collect the engine. My wife and I had a nice cup of tea and a chat with the seller, who turned out to be MOC club member lan Whiteley and his family. Ian showed me photos of his white KR200, which he had stored elsewhere. It had received modifications to the bodywork, done by a previous owner.

A few days later I received a welcome letter in the post. The car had been allocated an age related number - 720 XUG. I now have a VSC registration document. At the Classic Car Show, held at the NEC last November, I had a pair of number plates made up.

I plan to run the car with the Honda engine for a while, until I can source all the extra bits I need to use the newly acquired Sachs engine. I still need expensive items like an exhaust, rear axle, plus all the associated cables. I could probably get these items if I look hard enough, but the budget is exhausted for now. One or two contributors to the Messerschmitt on-line forum have told me I could get a new (used) gear cluster for the broken Sachs engine which came with the car. Still, now I have another (hopefully) good engine, so that is not a priority. I have spent a fair amount of money on materials to build a trailer to transport the Messerschmitt, but my design needs a rethink and more money needs to be spent on items such as suspension units and wheels. Should have waited a bit longer and bought one off FLEAbay. Oh well.

Another happy outcome to this story occurred when I returned the trailer I borrowed for the inspection. Brian, who owned the farm where the trailer was kept and who was its custodian, refused to accept payment for the loan of the trailer. It turned out that the trailer actually belonged to another chap called Tony. Anyway, Brian, who is restoring an early series one Land Rover, told Tony later that day about my adventures. Tony came up and said hello, explaining that he used to own a Nobel many years ago. He asked me if I wanted a set of points, which he had intended to fit to his car, but never got round to doing so. Not only did I get the use of a trailer, I also got a free set of points, new old stock! Even the receipt was still in the box.

Now the Honda engine is back in the car, the starter motor won't turn for some inexplicable reason. The mounting holes by the floor tunnel were a nighmare to line up and I've had to re-route the Honda cables. I can see now why people moan about clutch cables on their 'schmitts. Something in the frame hasn't gone back properly and the base of the engine is almost touching the frame. That's another job to sort out.

Then there's the lifting section to build up. l'm told that's an awkward job. The aluminium frame that goes over the windscrccn and round the back, which I acquired from Pete Darby, has now been TIG welded. I am hoping to get the car on the road for this yearis MOC rally but I said that last year, too. Just trying to be optimistic in these dark winter evenings. I hope to also get my trailer project finished before the summer, so I can get my car to the MOC rally. I was quite disappointed I couldn't get my car to Wychwood last year. So progress has been made. I've had some new number plates made up, which will be fitted at a later stage.

Keep on 'schmitting.